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Highest-rated Oscars ever? See the numbers here

The Academy Awards will be broadcast on Sunday night, and while most of the attention is on the winners and losers and whether the host is funny, another closely watched aspect of Oscar night are the TV ratings for the often laboriously long ceremony.

The Oscars usually do pretty well with viewers, who can't seem to get enough of the stars on display, whether they're posing on the red carpet or tripping over steps on their way to collect their awards and thank their agents, third-grade drama coaches, co-stars, directors, producers and physical trainers.

But since we have to wait to see how the 86th Academy Awards turn out, we can take time now to look at Oscars' past as a sort of prologue for Sunday night. Here are some numbers on telecasts from years gone by.

(Read more: In a multiscreen home, TV remains king)

The Numbers:

  • The most-watched Oscar ceremony was in 1998. The telecast averaged 55.25 million viewers. That was the year "Titanic" took home best picture, and Billy Crystal hosted.
  • The only other time an Oscar telecast averaged more than 50 million viewers was in 1983, when "Gandhi" won best picture. The ceremonies were hosted by a foursome of Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Richard Pryor and Walter Matthau.
  • The least-watched telecast since 1974 was in 2008, when "No Country for Old Men" took the best picture award and Jon Stewart was host. The show only averaged 32 million viewers.
  • The Oscars averaged 40.4 million total viewers last year. Compare that to this year's Super Bowl, which averaged 52.6 million females viewers alone.
  • Speaking of women, 61.8 percent of viewers for last year's Oscar's telecast were female.
  • Oscar telecasts are more for the upscale crowd. For 2013, the average household rating was 24, but in homes with incomes more than $100,000, the average rating was nearly 35.
  • The top five spenders for advertisers over the past five years for Oscar telecasts have been Hyundai at $56.5 million, J.C. Penney at $49.4 million, Coca-Cola $41.4 million, American Express $24.4 million and Samsung $24 million.
  • McDonald's has advertised in every Oscar telecast since 1992; American Express in each since 1993; and Penney since 2002.
  • The 2013 Oscar telecast produced a record $88.3 million in ad sales.
  • The 2013 Oscars saw an increase of almost 200 percent over 2012 in terms of social media comments. There were more than 14 million social media comments, 13 million on the show day alone.

(Sources: TV ratings and demographics from Nielsen: ad figures from Kantar Media.)

—By CNBC's Mark Koba. Follow him on Twitter @MarkKobaCNBC.

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